Eras­mus: New Zealand will face tougher tests

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Rugby -

South Africa head coach Rassie Eras­mus has pre­dicted New Zealand will face “stiff com­pe­ti­tion” from Eng­land, Ireland and Wales in their bid to land a third suc­ces­sive Rugby World Cup.

De­spite ac­knowl­edg­ing the All Blacks as front-run­ners af­ter their 23-13 vic­tory over his Spring­boks, Eras­mus sug­gested north­ern-hemi­sphere na­tions could pose prob­lems for Steve Hansen’s men.

“I think peo­ple must re­mem­ber we are four or five in the world,” said the 46-year-old. “I don’t think at this stage we are the bench­mark to com­pare teams with.

“When you add the likes of Eng­land, Wales and Ireland, I think New Zealand will have some stiff com­pe­ti­tion head­ing into the fi­nal.

“There are teams that can han­dle their kick­ing game and the spe­cific things they do – they might han­dle them a lit­tle bit bet­ter than we did.”

Al­though Eng­land recorded a four-try bonus point against Tonga, Close call: Rassie Eras­mus be­lieves New Zealand will be put un­der pres­sure their 35-3 vic­tory was far less con­vinc­ing than Ireland’s dis­play in a 27-3 win over Scot­land.

Speak­ing be­fore those fix­tures, Eras­mus ex­plained that both sides, as well as War­ren Gat­land’s Wales, should be con­fi­dent of putting the All Blacks un­der pres­sure.

“I think [New Zealand] are the favourite over­all – there’s no doubt about that. We are creep­ing closer, but they will have dif­fer­ent chal­lenges against Eng­land, Ireland and Wales, who have brought dif­fer­ent threats in the past year.”

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